Philadelphia’s South Street was bustling with costumes and excitement Saturday as small businesses were met with trick-or-treaters on the hunt for candy.
The South Street Headhouse District’s ( SSHHD) Pumpkinfest celebration gave kids and families a chance to decorate pumpkins, buy from dozens of local vendors, enjoy circus entertainment, and trick or treat at participating businesses on and around South Street.
Leaders on South St. have been working to restore the popular shopping district’s reputation after a nighttime fight led to a shooting in June, killing three and hurting eleven others. Earlier this month, a security guard was shot during an ATV drive-by.
Organizers say providing a safe place for Philly kids to enjoy Halloween is important. “This isn’t just for kids in this neighborhood. It’s for kids across the entire city.” said SSHHD spokesperson Sarah Cowell. “Some kids live in underdeveloped areas and that is no fault of their own.”
Nicole Wiegand, a co-owner of the South Street Art Mart, said that Pumpkinfest provides a unique opportunity for local business growth.“We are a consignment shop for handmade and indie artists,” she said. “I’m out here with a small sampling of the stores here in the neighborhood … you’ve got to support your neighborhood or else your neighborhood doesn’t exist anymore.”
Costumes of all kinds were on display. Tiara Hodges brought her daughters dressed as matching pink Power Rangers. They sat and watched the acrobats from the Give & Take Jugglers and performers from Philadelphia’s School of Circus Arts. “I wanted to bring my babies out to have some fun,” she said, smiling.
Allison Watman of Give and Take Jugglers, said she and her husband had been performing at Pumpkinfest for years. “We love this festival. It’s always one of my favorite shows because I love seeing all the kids and families in costumes.”
In addition to Pumpkinfest, Saturday saw Philly Truce volunteers and Councilmember Mark Squilla attending a block party on South American Street. Organizers say proceeds for that gathering went to ongoing violence prevention efforts.
For more Halloween weekend happenings, check out WHYY’s Things To Do section.
If you or someone you know has been affected by gun violence in Philadelphia, you can find grief support and resources here.
Sam Searles is a Report for America corps member covering gun violence and prevention for WHYY News.